Liquid stitches are used to close and protect wounds instead of sutures or bandages.
They’re a colorless, sticky liquid glue that can be placed directly on a wound to hold together the torn edges of the skin. As it dries, the liquid stitch creates a film that closes and protects the wound.
Liquid stitches are also known as:
- liquid bandages
- skin adhesive
- surgical glue
- tissue adhesive
Keep reading to learn more about liquid stitches, their benefits, and how to apply.
There are two general categories of liquid bandages: skin protectants and suture replacements.
Skin protectants are sprays and gels available over the counter that can be used to close and protect minor, superficial wounds, such as small cuts, abrasions, or sores.
Suture replacements are used primarily by professional health care providers to join together more serious skin lacerations, such as closing surgical incisions.
The primary difference between skin protectants and suture replacements is that suture replacements can be used on a bleeding wound, while skin protectants aren’t effective at covering wounds that are actively bleeding.
Liquid stitches are often chosen over sutures, because:
- they can be applied quickly and easily with minimal pain
- anesthesia isn’t required
- there’s a lower risk of infection because the wound is sealed
- they’re waterproof
- they have less potential for scarring
- you don’t need follow-up visits for suture removal
When compared to traditional bandages, liquid bandages can:
- stick better than fabric or plastic adhesive bandages
- provide waterproofing
- stay in place in areas that require skin stretching and relaxing, such as an elbow or knuckles
- lower the risk of infection
- have the potential for less scarring
Liquid bandages may not be the best choice if there’s:
- a concern about potential allergy risk
- a health condition present, such as diabetes, that could indicate slow wound healing
Do not use liquid stitches near the eyes or in the ear, nose, or mouth. If you accidentally apply it to these areas, call your doctor or seek emergency medical help.
To properly apply a liquid bandage:
- Thoroughly wash and dry your hands and then wash the injured area with soap and cold water. Completely dry the area with a clean towel.
- Seal the cut by gently squeezing the wound edges together with your fingers.
- Spread the liquid stitches over the top of the cut from one end to the other. Don’t place liquid stitches inside the cut, only on top of the skin. The cut should be completely covered.
- Give the liquid stitches time to dry by holding the edges of the cut together for about a minute.
The liquid bandage will keep bacteria and debris out until the damaged area heals and the bandage sloughs off. Although it depends on the type of liquid stitches used and the depth of the wound, the seal typically lasts between 5 and 10 days.
Once the liquid stitches have been properly dried:
- Leave it in place until it sloughs off.
- Don’t scratch or pick at it.
- You can shower but avoid direct water flow. Don’t scrub the area and gently pat the area dry when finished.
- Avoid soaking the area during activities, such as swimming, bathing in a tub, and washing dishes.
- Don’t put ointments, lotions, or gels — including antibiotic ointments — on it, as this can soften the protection or cause it to come off prematurely.
If the liquid bandage was applied or recommended by your doctor, follow any instructions they provided regarding care after application.
Call your doctor if:
- you see any signs of infection, such as redness, pain, or yellow pus around the injury
- you have a fever of 100°F (37.8°C) or higher
- your wound splits open
- your skin is darkening at the edges of the cut
- your wound bleeds and the bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- you experience persistent pain that doesn’t respond to medication
- you experience unfamiliar tingling or numbness in the area of the wound or beyond it
Liquid stitches are a popular alternative to stitches and bandages for closing and protecting wounds.
Benefits of liquid stitches include:
- They can be applied quickly and easily with minimal discomfort.
- They’re waterproof.
- They have a lower risk of infection, since the wound is sealed.
- There’s minimal scarring.
- They stay in place on skin areas that move, such elbows or knuckles.